TIME For DESIRE
Love is the most powerful kind of magic…
Looking for a costume for Thirsty’s Throwback Revue, songbird Rebekah Anne Carson walks past an antique shop where she spots the perfect outfit for her performance. While in the dressing room, she reaches inside the pocket and discovers half of an old heart locket that to her confusion has a young photograph of her grandmother inside. When she heads toward the rear of the shop to question the owner, she’s somehow transported back 40 years to 1979.
Desperately, Rebekah searches for answers and is mistaken for her grandmother, Anne, who she bears a striking resemblance. Since she’s spent years listening to fascinating tales of her career as a lounge singer, Rebekah decides to assume her identity until she can uncover a passageway back to her own time.
No one knows her secret, and despite the circumstances, Rebekah is living her dream, headlining at a jazz club where she catches the eye of piano player Lenox Lovato. The chemistry is explosive. With each passing day, Rebekah’s falling in love, and no longer sure what to do if she does find her way back home. However, when she meets her grandfather, who outs her as a fraud, Rebekah realizes changing the past comes with a personal cost that ultimately might manipulate the fate of her existence.
Will she ever find her way home? And even if she does, which time will she choose?
READ AN EXCERPT
“Julia!” Rebekah sung in a perfect soprano voice. “Your triple grande hazelnut macchiato is ready!”
A dark haired woman walked over with a wide grin on her pink painted lips. “You’re voice always brightens my morning.”
“Thank you, Julia,” she replied with a smile of her own. It felt good knowing someone appreciated her gift. She handed her the cup and sung goodbye.
“Chai tea and skim…, chai tea and skim for Cane,” she sang and caught movement out the corner of the room. Talk about eye candy or in this case Candy Cane. She had seen him at the coffee shop before but this was one time she paid closer attention. He was an older, distinguished looking man, nevertheless gorgeous with eyes that were so dark and intense, it was almost impossible to look away. Not that she’d wanted to. He was tall, with an athletic build that looked impeccable in a navy suit. If she had been a few decades older, she would have been all over him.
“You must be Cane.”
“And you must be an angel. With a voice like that you have to have been sent down from heaven.”
The comment was corny and yet coming from a man that handsome it couldn’t be anything but flattering. “Thank you,” Rebekah sang and handed him his cup.
He stood, observing her and didn’t seem in any rush to leave. “You’re truly talented. I might know someone who would be interested in hearing you sing.”
She noticed the business card in his proffered hand, which she accepted. She glanced briefly down at the card: Entertainment Attorney.
“You have any gigs?” he asked.
Her heart was pounding. How long had she been waiting to hear those words? “I’m performing in Thirsty’s Throwback Revue this weekend.”
“Thirsty’s, huh?” he looked clearly amused.
Rebekah was sure Cane was used to preparing contracts for real celebrities not a girl who performed at a popular hole in the wall. Thinking he was laughing at her, she scowled inwardly. To the locals of Chicago, the annual revue was a way to be discovered. Several of the annual contestants had been given recording contracts. A&R executives from around the country attended. It was definitely a local American Idol that would be getting all kinds of media attention.
“I’d love to come hear you.”
“You would?” she said and realized she was no longer singing her responses.
He winked. “I would go into a dark cave to hear you.”
Wow, he sure knew how to flatter a woman.
Cane smiled. “With a voice like yours I’m sure someday soon you’ll need a lawyer to review a lucrative contract.”
Sure sounded good. She wondered if that was just another pick-up line.
“Call me,” he insisted.
“I will.” Rebekah smiled and watched as he exited the shop. Her mind was spinning with possibilities. What if he was the real thing?
Rebekah wasn’t sure how long she had zoned out before she heard someone clearing their throat.
“Listen lady. You can audition for America’s Got Talent on your time. Some of us have to get to work.”
She quickly apologized and got back to singing and serving the needs of her customers. Rebekah had been successfully managing the Hummingbird Beanery for the last three years and wasn’t ready to lose the only steady income she had. However, while she worked, her mind filtered back to Cane wondering if he really was the real deal or just another man trying to get laid.
After the coffee shop began to slow down, her coworker and close friend Gretchen came over and asked about the gorgeous man.
“’He’s an entertainment lawyer. Can you believe that? Says he knows some folks who might be interested in hearing me?”
“He might just be trying to get your goodies,” she teased.
“As gorgeous as he was, I just might let him,” she retorted and they shared a laugh. Rebekah had never dated a man that old, but in his case she just might be willing to make an exception.
The lunch rush ended up being just as busy as the morning and the staff of four went back to serving customers.
The Hummingbird Beanery was a hit. The support of their regulars was sensational. She didn’t know what it was about the perfect cup of coffee that got people out the bed a few minutes early every morning just so they’d have time to drop by the shop for a taste of the breakfast brew. Whatever it was, it kept them coming back for more. Part of her had a feeling it was the voices. Every day was almost like a rap opera. The baristas didn’t talk, they sang. All throughout the day, sometimes as soloists and other times as a group. It was fun and their customers found it delightful.
Since she was the manager, and hopefully soon, a franchise owner, Rebekah was a little biased and thought the Hummingbird Beanery was by far the best in the city. With its friendly ambiance, singing hummingbirds, mouthwatering pastries, and of course, delicious hand-roasted artisan coffee, they were in a class of their own.
By five, her throat was hoarse, and she was glad when Jasmine, the evening shift supervisor, strolled through the door. The Latina had a raspy sound that set the tone for the evening crowd who typically liked to kick back on the couches in front of the fireplace and mingle.
Rebekah left through the door and headed down the main street of Paisley Place. The trendy neighborhood was an up and coming area of Chicago with cultural events, shops, restaurants and lots of young people. Reaching inside her purse, she removed her iPhone and pressed the last contact she’d called earlier that day. Lana, her best friend, answered on the first ring. “Hey, what time are we practicing tonight?” She, Lana, along with two other girls’ had started a girl group called “Unique.”
“We can meet at your house in an hour.”
“Sounds good. I have a feeling some really important people are going to be at the Revue.”
“Really? Tell me more,” Lana cooed.
While Rebekah strolled down the sidewalk, she told Lana about her conversation with Cane. She was walking past a large storefront window when she spotted a dress in the window that caused her to do a double take. Rebekah wasn’t sure what it was but something had drawn her back to stare at the mannequin in the window. The long champagne sequin gown reminded her of something Diana Ross would have worn while singing with the Supremes.
“Ooh, Lana. Gotta go! I think I spotted a dress for my solo performance.” With her eyes fixed on the gown, she ended the call and returned the phone to her purse. One thing for sure the dress would be perfect for Thirsty’s. Her eyes traveled to the sign overhead.
Enchanted Keepsake Antique Shop.
Talk about being in luck.
Rebekah walked over and pushed open the glass door, sending the chimes jingling overhead. As she stepped into the shop, her eyes shifted left, then right, and were immediately caught up in the nostalgic flare. A woman came from behind the counter to greet me.
“Hello, welcome to my shop! I’m Korinna, what can I help you with?”
She was instantly mesmerized by the beautiful woman with bright copper hair and eyes that were vividly violet. She was so beautiful, Rebekah felt herself staring a bit too long at her high cheekbones and flawless milky white skin. Forcing her eyes away, she pointed over to the storefront window. “I would like to try on that dress.”
Joyfully, Korinna clapped her hands. “I had a feeling you were going to say that.”
Rebekah’s brow arched. “Really, why is that?”
“You’ll see,” she replied in a far-off voice before turning and walking away.
Puzzled, Rebekah waited while the shop owner stepped into the window display and stripped the gown from the mannequin. As she carried it over, Korinna pointed toward the rear. “There’s a dressing room in back.”
Taking the dress from her hand, Rebekah walked through the cluttered space making sure not to knock over anything old and fragile enough to break. Unnecessary expenses was one thing she couldn’t afford on her salary. Once in the dressing room, she quickly removed her jeans and t-shirt and slipped into the gown. Reaching behind her, she raised the zipper and couldn’t believe how perfect it fit. She stepped in front of the wall of mirrors and turned side-to-side, admiring how well the sateen fabric covered with sequins accentuated her curves. They don’t make dresses like this anymore, she thought. With a low V in both the front and back, the dress was sexy and sophisticated at the same time.
Even in a pair of high-top Chuck Taylor’s.
Wanting the opinion of another woman, she stepped out of the dressing room and headed up to the counter where Korinna was neatly stacking old books on a wooden table.
“What do you think?”
The shop owner swung around, her red hair bouncing against her cheeks. As soon as she saw her, her eyes widened in astonishment before her lips softened into a genuine smile of appreciation. “I was right. That gown has been waiting in that window for you.”
Korinna’s words made Rebekah smile. She had found a treasure.
“I think I’ll take it home. How much is it?” Rebekah prayed it wasn’t more than she could manage although she was willing to eat Ramon noodles for the next week if that’s what it took.
“Well, since that gown has been on display in that window for over a month, I’m going to give you fifty percent off and sell it to you for what it would have been worth at the time.”
“When was this dress made?” she asked curiously.
“That is clearly the fashion of nineteen-seventies.” There was a mischievous twinkle in her violet gaze. “It’s yours for nineteen-ninety-nine.”
Rebekah’s eyes lit up. “Perfect!” Happily she moved back toward the dressing room and caught herself humming a soft tune. As she stepped into the small room, she slid her hand into a small pocket at her hip and felt a chain beneath her fingers. Removing it, Rebekah realized it was a gold necklace with a charm locket. Upon further inspection, she realized it to be one of those broken-hearted lockets. I wonder who has the other half of my heart. Giggling softly, she slid her fingernail through the slit and pried it open. As she stared at the small photograph, her brow bunched with confusion.
That woman looks just like my grandmother. Or at least the way her grandmother had looked when she was much younger.
Mama had raised her, and Rebekah had seen younger photographs of her dozens of time. Only this one was different. Her dark wavy hair hung loose around her face on one side and was tucked behind her ear with a single red rose on the other. She had high cheekbones and large round eyes that she was certain used to drive all the men crazy. Eyes like mine, as she was often told, but as Rebekah studied the woman’s eyes that seemed to be dancing with amusement, she spotted the small beauty mark right above her top lip.
No freaking way! That really was her grandmother, and what was even more eerie… in the photograph, she had been wearing the same champagne dress. How was that even possible? She was determined to speak with Korinna for answers.
Rebekah closed the locket and everything got strange. A cold breeze blew across her face, seeping through her veins, and filled her lungs with a sudden force that made her gasp. Her eyes darted swiftly, scanning the room. She noticed there were no windows or air vents overhead.
Anxious to escape the space, she reached down and tried to turn the knob—only the door was locked. Using both hands, she tried to get the door to open, but was unsuccessful.
“Hello?” Rebekah cried out and started knocking, hoping she would be heard. “Korinna, can you hear me? I can’t get the door to open!”
Frantically, she continued to wiggle the knob. When no one came to rescue her, she began banging hard on the door. “Help! Let me out!” she cried. She had never been a fan of being locked up in tight spaces for extended periods of time. “Korinna!” Rebekah shouted. When she didn’t hear a response, she started pounding on the door first with her fists and then began kicking with her feet. “Let me out, dammit! You hear me. Let me out!” She screamed so loud she felt like her throat ripped itself open in that very instance.
Rebekah had been pounding on the door for quite a while when she thought she’d heard something. Holding her breath, she listened and was sure she had heard movement on the other side of the door. “Hello?” she said softly. The only sound was her breathing and that was now slow and controlled even though her heart was pounding like crazy. Reaching down, she slowly wrapped her fingers around the knob, took a deep breath, and turned the knob.
The door opened.
Flooded with relief, Rebekah pushed the door open, and cried, “Korinna, are you out there?” Getting no answer, she slowly stuck her head outside the room and looked in both directions, but all was quiet.
Just get out of there and go home.
Grabbing her purse, she stepped out of the room and was headed back to the front of the store when she heard a loud crash that caused her to pause. Heart thumping, her instincts told her to run, but she had to know if Korinna was okay. “Korinna! You back there?” she called. Rebekah waited and when she didn’t hear anything else, she became concerned that she might have fallen and hurt herself.
Rebekah left her purse behind the counter and moved back toward the rear. “Korinna!” she called. Getting no response, she passed the dressing room where there was a door and stuck her head inside. The room was filled with vintage junk like an old dusty attic. She heard movement followed by another loud crash. “Korinna?” she called and boldly moved inside toward the direction the sound had come from and screamed when a black cat leapt out in front of her.
“Bad cat!” she hissed, pressing a hand to her racing heart. On the floor was an overturned box with broken china. “You’re in a lot of trouble.”
Rebekah scooped the cat in her arms and was headed back toward the front of the shop when he jerked away from her hold and hurried off. She followed him through the door, only it wasn’t the same door. Deciding that in her confusion she had somehow gotten twisted around, she retraced her steps. Something just didn’t feel right, peculiar actually, she thought. She swung around and headed back through the door again, only this time it was a closet. Rebekah pushed against the walls because it had to be some kind of trick door or something. “Please, I gotta get out of here,” she whispered. Only there was no secret passage, absolutely nothing. Slowly she backed away from the space while fear snaked up her spine. Rebekah twirled around, hurried toward the exit sign at the rear of the room, opened the door, and rushed outside.
As soon as she felt the sun beaming down on her, she breathed a sigh of relief. What the hell was that back there? She wasn’t sure and as much as she’d rather just go home, she needed to get her purse. She shut the door, then stepped down the alley that headed toward the street with a determined stride and realized she was still wearing the dress. All the more reason to go back into the shop and speak with Korinna.
When Rebekah reached the end of the street, she walked around to the stores lining both sides along the sidewalk. Heading right, she walked around toward Enchanted Keepsakes Antique Shop. Only it wasn’t there. Considering the possibility that maybe she hadn’t gone down the street far enough she strolled down even further and yet it still wasn’t there.
What the hell?
Combing slender fingers through her long hair, Rebekah stared at what should have been the antique shop instead was Arnold’s Hardware Store. What in the world was going on?
Rebekah looked one way and then the other, and then gasped. It was the same street… only different.